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National creates an underclass of young workers

Labour Spokesperson


National creates an underclass of young workers

The National-led Government has today made an underclass of young workers and marginalised their futures, says Darien Fenton, Labour’s Employment Relations spokesperson.

The Minimum Wage (Starting out Wage) Amendment Bill passed its third reading today with strong opposition from Labour.

“The Bill assumes that cutting wages will create jobs – it won’t,” Darien Fenton said.

“Parliament heard no evidence to support National’s claim that this bill would reduce youth unemployment. The Government’s own advisers at MoBIE have admitted as much, resorting to ‘best guesses’ of the bill’s suggested outcomes because of a lack of information and time to do the work needed.

“What’s even more troubling is the suggestion from Treasury that sub-minimum wage rates could be applied to other groups of ‘disadvantaged’ workers, which could extend to migrants, Māori and Pasifika and those from high unemployment communities.

“The failed policies of the 1990’s National Government show that cutting wages doesn’t create jobs.

“This policy will only add fuel to the massive gap in pay between New Zealand and Australian workers and further position the Kiwi economy as one based on low wages and long hours.

“This bill will see thousands of cheaper young workers enter the labour market, with adverse effects on every single worker in New Zealand. There is no doubt that the availability of cheap labour will displace older workers, who are not only in the queues of unemployment, but in the queues of underemployment.

“The failure of this Government to give credence to the submissions opposed to this bill shows a striking arrogance. Under National, workers can expect wages to be cut further through major changes to employment laws, expected to hit Parliament soon.

“Labour will continue to oppose these changes, because we have confidence in the abilities and talents of all workers. We will build an economy that provides decent, secure jobs and incomes where young people have hope and opportunity,” Darien Fenton.


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